Ithaca Hummus is a local hummus producer providing a fresh and high-quality snack food with no preservatives. They’re committed to making healthy, fresh food more accessible to everyone, in and out of the snack food aisle.
A Q&A with Christopher Kirby, founder of Ithaca Hummus.
What is Ithaca Hummus?
Ithaca Hummus is a company that makes fresh, nutritious, delicious hummus. We sell it to grocery stores, and we’re trying to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Our focus is really on putting a high quality fresh product out there.
Who is it good for?
What we’re doing is really good for everyone that has access to it. And that’s, again, kind of our focus… giving that access to as many people as possible. The problem I see in grocery stores in the US today, especially in the snack food area, is that there’s not a whole lot of really good food. It’s not healthy, it’s not tasty… it’s certainly not fresh. So, what we do is good for everyone that we can get in front of.
What kind of change are you trying to make?
What we do could potentially effect the industry…. how products like this are marketed. There’s a lot of “marketing knowledge” and conventions that say that you can’t really stand on the quality of the product, you have to develop the brand in a lot of other ways, but that’s kind of why we, as a nation, are where we are in terms of the quality of our food… it’s more about branding than putting something that’s good for people in the box or the package. We’re trying to change that.
How did it start?
I came to Ithaca to go to Cornell, and in my previous life I was a chef. I worked all across the country and I knew that when I came here I wanted to start a business. I knew I wanted it to be food related. Hummus just seemed like a really good fit for a business that I could manage and really add value to the marketplace.
What impact does it have on the community?
We’re going to provide a lot of jobs here as we grow and that’s fantastic for the local economy. So that’s number one. And I guess number two would be that there are a lot of people that are interested in promoting Ithaca as a brand because at the end of the day, it adds value. And, you know, that’s a terrific thing to be a part of for us.
How has our community supported you?
There’s actually a ton of really really great resources right here in Ithaca, Tompkins County, and the Finger Lakes region as a whole for startups, but specifically for food startups. Cornell Cooperative Extension… I have to put at the very top of the list for Ithaca Hummus.
What struggles have you encountered?
Every day there’s a new kind of challenge. But, I guess thinking big picture… our shelf life. The nature of the product that we make, it’s kind of disruptive in prepared packaged foods. It’s against the grain, but it’s something that we’re willing and excited to figure out how to make work.
What should we be celebrating?
There’s a lot of towns and cities in the country where someone could move and start a company and name their company after that town or that city. But I think, it means a whole lot… “Ithaca”. That foundation has been built, and the people that built that foundation did a really great job. We’re proud to say this was made in Ithaca.
How can we participate?
Obviously, it’s awesome that people support us by buying the products. But if people really want to align themselves with what our mission is, it’s important to pay attention and make sure it’s not only the people who are able to afford high quality fresh food, but know that there’s also a large percentage of the population that can’t. And so, support organizations that work to spread the access of fresh and healthy food! That’s how people can really align with us.14
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